84 miles and 3,340 feet ascent.
Today started with a stiff climb up and over the Mendip Hills from Cheddar before a fast descent. Fortunately the rest of the day was pretty flat and allows us to get a few more miles under our belt. Once we navigated through Bristol’s suburbs we headed for Gloucester at the head of the Severn Estuary (a flatter route than going over the Severn Bridge), then north east to our bunkhouse for the night near Ledbury.
What actually happened:
Well … we found it a real challenge navigating from the Mendips to and around Bristol. So much so in fact, that 84 miles somehow turned into 95 miles. To say we were relieved to finally get to our accommodation near Ledbury is an understatement !!
The day started with a visit to a bike workshop in Cheddar to clean and oil our chains after Devon’s muddy lanes. We enjoyed cycling through Cheddar Gorge and over the Mendips Hills, with a couple of other cyclists for company. We followed National Cycle Routes towards Bristol; lost NCN3 then picked up NCN410, which took us on a slight detour off our planned route. Bristol’s the home of Sustrans and the cycle routes around the old railway tracks are great. But we found it a bit of a maze. Great if you’re a local and know the local place names; not so good if you need to know if you’re heading in the right direction for a place 20 miles away.
After a frustrating morning and some home cooked sustenance at a garden centre cafe we picked up the pace in the afternoon, escaping Bristol for the quieter lanes parallel to the Severn on the way to Gloucester. For the rest of the day we rode into a northwesterly headwind but at least it was a nice day.
We re-routed away from bumpy canal towpaths on to quiet country lanes and got 30+ miles under our belt before 5.30pm. However, we still had 18 miles to go from Gloucester … A stiff coffee and triple choc cake gave a welcome energy boost. While our (okay, my) legs felt like jelly during this last stretch at least it was a beautiful summer’s evening: birds singing, lambs bleating … and three groups of club cyclists gliding past us at 20mph ! (Oh to have fresh legs after a day sitting at a desk …!)
I can report, following my rather disparaging remarks about some of Devon’s Morris-dancing yokels, that the residents of Gloucestershire are indeed a fine and upstanding section of the country’s population. At least those we met on canal tow paths and in Gloucester Sainsbury’s were very helpful and pleasant. (Relax, Mary, you’re off the hook !).
Today’s journey in three words: disused railways, wrong turnings, sore bum.
The high points:
- Getting to our accommodation after 95 miles
- Bristol’s railway cycle paths
- Strong coffee and chocolate cake
- Home cooked food – including our own
And the low points:
- Bristol’s maze of cycle paths
- Bumpy, gravelly canal tow paths
- Navigational errors
- 95 miles cycled
- Average speed 12.1 mph
- Max speed 32.3 mph
- Time cycled 7 hours 40 mins
- Cumulative distance 300 miles.
Most popular pub names:
- The White Hart Inn
- Rose and Crown
- Bird in the Hand
Most aggressive drivers:
- Land Rover Discovery
- Range Rover
- BMW 5 Series
(All male of course).